I’m not going to outline a step by step plan as I did in my free Chicken Tractor How-to Guide. This is not a repeatable blueprint. However, I did put a lot of forethought into this build. Usually my plans stay in my head augmented by some hand drawings and/or notes. But Bill Mollison teaches putting the majority of your time in observation and planning. So this time I created a better blueprint than I normally do, click on the images to make them bigger.
Why this coop?
We kept part of our layers in a chicken tractor this past summer and fall and I really liked it. There was no fence to move, no coop door to open and close, and the open air tractor is great for pasturing.
So why not use a chicken tractor permanently? The idea is very tempting and I may still convert a chicken tractor; however, there were several reasons or excuses not to. Adding the refinements I wanted would mean adding weight and making it harder to move. One person can move the chicken tractor, but it’s so easy with two we’ve gotten in the habit of double teaming the chicken moves. Frankly I’ve gotten spoiled. A coop on wheels allows me to put in a lot of features without worrying about the weight.
The girls would like to be able to care for the chickens without having to enter the tractor, because grown roosters are mean and scary.
We’d need whatever chicken tractor I converted in the spring for the broilers and I didn’t want to be under the gun to build a new tractor in the spring.
I really like the idea of easily moving the layers longer distances to any part of the property that needs worked, chickens and all. The A-frame is fairly easy to move once it’s wheels are on, but it’s so heavy it takes a lot of effort to put the wheels on. And worse, we have to catch and transport the chickens separately.
I started by listing what I wanted and prioritizing. Everything is designed to provide pasture and comfort to the chickens as well as simplicity for their human caretakers. Below lists what I wanted, mostly in order of importance. Being layers, we’ll have to interact with the flock every day, so things like multi-day feed and water were lower priority and things like easy to move and mobility were high on the list.
I plan on going into each of these deeper in future blogs.
- Easily moved by one person
- Easy lift trailer hitch
- Pull with something as small as a garden tractor
- Enclosed aviary for scratching (tractoring)
- Optional Skirt around coop for additional foraging/shade under coop/layer boxes
- Peck-proof boxes with easy access lids on outside
- Automatic coop door. This means power supply (batteries and solar panels)
- Easy to clean droppings
- Floor options
- Open/screened bottom. Allow droppings to fall through and open air
- Solid board. Removable and easy scrape surface
- Continuous perching space, up to 20 birds
- Floor options
- Windows and natural lights
- Access panels all around so we don’t have to enter coop
- Ends are doors
- Removable coop boxes?
- Anti-freeze waterer
- Easy access food and water
- Rain Catchment system